Advance Auto Parts responds to record hurricane season

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, and Maria in Puerto Rico were all unwanted visitors that had a significant impact on Advance Auto Parts stores, team members, customers and communities.

But the company was preparing well before the storms made landfall.

"As soon as we start entering into hurricane season, we are watching the weather patterns," said Executive Vice President Tammy Finley. "We are looking for storms forming. We are tracking those storms and know well in advance when it looks like they're going to hit an area of the country that could impact our stores."

Two weeks ago Advance CEO Tom Greco visited Houston to meet with Advance employees who were affected by Hurricane Harvey or pitched in to lead the company's response there.

Advance operates close to 100 stores in the Houston area, and all but one reopened quickly.

Stores in Puerto Rico have alsoreopened, but the recovery effort there will take more time.

"In Puerto Rico we have 26 locations all are operating currently," said Real Estate Operations Manager Annette Ullom. "We've had some very significant damage there. We just had one roof replaced yesterday and another one's going on today."

The Roanoke Distribution Center and others around the country prepare for hurricanes by pre-packaging items their customers will need.

Clinton Ray is the General Manager of the Roanoke Distribution Center.

"These are pallets of merchandise that have things in them such as generators, gas cans, tarps, flashlights, batteries," he said, "anything you could imagine that could help with getting prepared for a storm or recover from a storm."

Employees at the Roanoke center shipped one and a half truckloads of relief supplies donated by Advance employees and their customers.

Advance team members and the company have also raised more than $400,000 to help employees whose lives have been disrupted by the damaging winds and water.

"Over 300 team members have been impacted in various ways, from being evacuated for over a week, to losing their homes," said Benefits and Wellness Manager Krista Engl. "We hear some difficult stories, but we also hear some triumphant stories where people are on the ground really pitching in to make sure that they can help."

Advance says it also tries to learn from each disaster.

Just one example this year was the need for satellite phones in Puerto Rico. When landlines and cellphone systems went down, the company lost communication with its employees there.

And the company isn't letting down its guard with several weeks of hurricane season still ahead.